The countries: The Netherlands- Belgium- Luxembourg- Germany
Let me start by saying, I am qualified to drive a vehicle and, at the time, I had my driver's license for 10 years. Up until this point, I had never had any speeding tickets or fines. Europe roads clearly had a personal vendetta against me.
Ticket number 1- Amsterdam speeding ticket
The first speeding ticket of the 3-day trip occurred near Amsterdam. On a certain stretch of the highway leading to Utrecht, a camera will take a picture of your license plate at the beginning and end of the stretch of the highway. If your average speed is too high, you get a ticket. I was on average 3 kilometers over the speed limit, which I found out when we returned from our road trip. There was a lovely letter from the Dutch government in my mailbox.
We were heading to our first stop- Namur at a driving speed that I thought was acceptable but clearly wasn't- I mean, I wasn't Mad Maxing-it. Namur is a pleasant town with some sort of fortification up on a hill. Even though it was April and a little chilly, it was lovely to walk around.
Ticket number 2- Dinant parking ticket
Dinant is where the second infraction happened. You may have seen this stellar snap of a wicked church with cute buildings along a waterway- one of my fav. European scenes.
Now, this is going to seem like the stupidest thing in the world- and it is. We parked alongside a road about two streets back from the water and we didn't see any parking meter. NONE. We looked, I promise. Anyways, we only wanted to be there for 10 minutes to get a photo along the river with that dreamy landscape. As we were walking away from the car, we saw a by-law officer ticketing some cars along the same road we parked on but not near our car. Admittingly, at this point, we should have raced back to the car to move it before we got ticketed, but we came all this way for a picture and if there was no meter how could we pay?- she ignorantly didn't ask.
We continued to walk, got our pic then went back to the car. Sure enough, there was a parking ticket. I acted all dumbfounded like how could we possibly have gotten this?! Outrageous! Seeing my stunned face, a lady across the street told us it happens all the time and you are supposed to pay via a machine located nowhere near (somewhat close) to where we parked, but on the other side of the street. GO FIGURE.
Noisy Castle, Belgium
Miranda Castle aka Noisy Castle is an abandoned castle that someone still owns (as of 2016 when we went). It is located near a fun and fresh castle that I think you have to pay to enter. You can never have enough castles! Originally, we didn't know about the easy entranceway so we drove around the entire abandoned estate- not knowing where to go before we realized what to do. Technically, you aren't supposed to trespass says the sign, but you can park on the side of the road where there is a gravel patch that can sort of fit a few cars then walk to the gate. Clearly, other people have been before since part of the fence has been bent to allow trespassers, which makes this justifiably legal (I should have been a lawyer). Follow the path and eventually, you will see the castle behind some trees. We didn't go inside since we sketched ourselves out thinking someone would shoot us or command their dogs to attack us- very Mr. Burns release the hounds. We nervously took a few snaps, heard some people talking then ran like the dickens.
We then continued on to another country (France) in order to save on accommodation. Counterintuitive? Nope. It makes complete sense. Not only did we experience cost savings in Givet we also experienced an UNREAL meat meal at On dirait le sud. The town is quaint and cute- as we discovered most towns along the Meuse river are.
Castel along the river- check!
Amazing food- check!
Free parking since it isn't really a tourist destination- check!
Ticket number 3- Luxembourg speeding ticket
Luxembourg is definitely worth a visit. Not just for the cheaper gas prices (and cigarettes apparently) but Luxembourg packs a lot of punch. I recommend having a car to get around though.
Beaufort Castle is a nice little pit stop, we did not pay to go inside since we needed to save money for the unexpected gondola chair ride in Vianden that we didn't know existed yet.
Meaning, I cheaped out as per usual and didn't want to pay an entrance fee.
Somewhere in between Beaufort Castle and Vianden is where the 3rd ticket happened. I was going 90 since it was a highway, then it dropped to 50, then to 30. I saw the car in front of me slam on his breaks between the 50 and 30 zone so I did the same- just in time to see the speed camera snap a picture. I was fined for going 2 kilometers over.
Vianden is fantastic. We parked near the base of the gondola in the free parking. You could also attempt to park within the town on the cobblestone streets, which I think was free also. But my parallel parking is far worse than my ability to get fines. Take the gondola chair (yes, pay money for this!) up to the top and you get stunning views just around the river bend (Pocahontas where you at?!) town and the massive castle as well. There is a restaurant at the top but we didn't purchase anything (shocker). You can also walk up instead of taking the gondola but we were short on time and the views from the gondola itself were better than on the hiking trail. Yes, there is a hiking trail but I didn't want you to be more in shape than me and the paid gondola is worth it.
A delicious place for again, meat (more German this time than French) is Auberge Aal Veinen. Wait until you see the facade and interior of this delightful place- yum! We then waddled backed to the vehicle on full stomachs.
My Dutch aunt suggested Monschau to us ages ago. Aren't we fools for not going sooner!? This town is perfection. There is obvious parking so we obviously parked there and then started walking towards the creek/ river and followed the path. Then, when you see it, your jaw will drop. DAMNIT EUROPE why do you have to be so fine? Wander around, there is a nice walk on the other side of the river from where you started on. Yes, I am aware using north and south is more informative but when you are there, you'll know. We ended up staying at Gästehaus Zum Stehlinga about 4 kilometers away from Monschau and it was great.
You can be in three places at once- The Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium
Known in Dutch as the DrieLandenPunt (Three-Point Land). Apparently, there are quite a few places in Europe that have this point where multiple countries meet. We wanted to be in three places at once and since we don't have superpowers yet we thought this was the next best thing.
In our heads, we thought there would be only a small commemorative statue in the middle of a field. So when we showed up, we weren't expecting some massive amusement park-like production. There was a playground, two or three food areas, a viewpoint that was closed due to weather, and some other buildings with activities. The actual point with the 3 flags is behind all the fanfare. It was momentously busy near the pole since there is a road conveniently in front of it where cars occasionally pass. So you need to wait a while if you want a clean picture. Trying to get a good picture is half the fun. The other half is becoming violently angry and swearing to yourself in your head.
There you go
After renting a car, don't think you can go all Fast and Furious on European roads. Even if you are going only 3 kilometers over the speed limit, you can be caught by all those nifty technologies. I ended up paying all three fines since I used my Dutch address when filling out the rental car forms. I am unsure if you can be crafty with a non-European address- maybe the fines can't be traced internationally but partaking in those shady things would be on you, don't blame me.
Have you gotten a fine or ticket internationally before? Where was it?